In today's post about the importance of follow-up questions, I mentioned that I like to dissuade my students from using lists of questions because it can prevent them from asking follow-up questions. Over on Facebook, the always awesome Lori Chase mentioned that she always liked to use a list of questions as a sort of guide to the interview and wondered if that was standard.
She's absolutely right.
A list of questions can be invaluable for reporters doing an interview. It's respectful of your source's time and attention. It forces you to do some preparation. It prevents you from forgetting to ask about an important issue or topic.
But they should be used only as guidelines, not scripts. I've seen too many students and other young reporters use their questions as a script, where they ask their list of questions without any follow up, or even apparently acknowledging what the source just said.
Like the Pirates Code, a journalist's list of questions should be more like guidelines than actual rules.